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MORAI's virtual testing solution reduces testing period for self-driving cars

Source: The Korean Economic Daily


MORAI's virtual testing solution reduces testing period for self-driving cars


The artificial intelligence startup plans forays into Singapore, Japan, China this year


MORAI Inc.'s founder and co-chief executive Jung Ji-won explains virtual autonomous driving simulator on June 22.


A self-driving car needs to pass all sorts of tests before setting off for the open road. It needs to experience different types of roads, terrain features, weather conditions, and unexpected movements from pedestrians. And to do all this, a self-driving car needs to drive hundreds of thousands of kilometers.


In 2018, Waymo, the autonomous driving arm of Google, became the world's first company to successfully commercialize self-driving cars. It had taken the company over 10 years.


But MORAI Inc., a South Korea-based artificial intelligence startup, has developed a technology that drastically reduces the testing period for self-driving cars thanks to its AI-powered autonomous driving simulator.


A VIRTUAL TESTING ENVIRONMENT FOR AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES


“Over hundreds of thousands of kilometers are driven every day on MORAI’s virtual simulator,” said Jung Ji-won, the co-chief executive of MORAI, on June 22 in an interview with the Korea Economic Daily.


Jung explains the virtual autonomous driving simulator on June 22.


MORAI runs a simulation platform to test the safety of self-driving cars and to verify that they function as intended. It has also developed a technology that automatically creates a virtual road environment based on HD map data.


MORAI is the only company in Korea to have developed a full-stack autonomous driving simulator.


“We’ve replicated over 20 locations in the virtual space where self-driving cars drive over 10 million kilometers every day,” said Jung.


According to him, MORAI is more advanced in some areas compared to the US-based autonomous vehicle simulation solutions developer Applied Intuition, which raised $125 million in a Series C funding round last year with a valuation of over 1 trillion won ($881 million).


COLLABORATING WITH INDUSTRY GIANTS


Mobility companies have been reaching out to MORAI such as Naver Labs, the tech subsidiary of Korea's platform giant Naver Corp., and leading automaker Hyundai Motor Co.


Naver Labs has been using MORAI's simulator to advance its autonomous driving system and Hyundai Motor has been expanding the scope of its autonomous driving tests via the simulator.


The company has also been collaborating with the world's leading graphic processing unit (GPU) manufacturer Nvidia.


Both Naver and Hyundai have invested in MORAI. Other investors include Kakao Ventures, the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund and Atinum Investment. The startup has raised a total of 4.4 billion won to date.


Founded in 2018, MORAI was created by the autonomous vehicle research team from Korea's leading science and tech university, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Last year, the startup logged revenue of 1.5 billion won.


This year, the company plans to foray abroad this year into Singapore, Japan and China.


"One of our goals includes getting the government to use our simulator as the official certification assessment tool for autonomous driving," said Jung.

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